Yvonne van Gennip: ice queen who demolished the GDR bastion

In the election of the best Dutch Olympic player of all time, Van Gennip finished in thirteenth place thanks to her gold rush in Calgary at the time.

Van Gennip shines, enjoys, shakes hands and pulls crazy pelvis during the inauguration on the Grote Markt in her hometown. She can hardly believe how many people came especially for her, calls the turnout “not to be described in words”. As far as that is concerned, her fans leave the skating champion as amazed as she did with them.

Because of Olympic success, three months before the 1988 Winter Olympics still seems a long way off. Van Gennip leaves a training camp in the American town of Butte to undergo an operation on her foot in the Netherlands. For weeks she is on the sidelines, anything but an ideal preparation.

But in the Canadian Calgary Van Gennip experiences its peak of all peaks with three Olympic titles. After a world record on the 3.000 meters, she skates an olympic record on the 1.500 meters and another world record on the 5.000 meters

The unbeatable – and later turned out to be using stimulants – East German skaters refer to them three times to the lower steps on stage. Something that she never succeeded before and after 1988

Doping? Never never

Long after the Olympic euphoria has subsided, this combination of factors raises a rather uncomfortable question: how is that possible all of a sudden? Not thanks to doping, Van Gennip swears. “No, never.” Not even without her knowledge. “I know what I put in my mouth. Suppose you’d used 1988, man, you couldn’t live with yourself, could you?”

From Gennip it stops at a flow she was in Calgary. But why was the case with urine samples from her and Ria Visser, three years before Van Gennip’s Olympic triumph, then stolen from the hospital before the samples could be tested for traces of doping?

Rafel edges like any successful monarchy knows, as well as the sounds that the ‘Queen of Calgary’ was difficult for coaches to work with. Loose ends, and no more than that, to an undeniably impressive sporting legacy.